Substance use behaviors among college students with same-sex and opposite-sex experience: Results from a national study

Marla Eisenberg, Henry Wechsler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    104 Scopus citations


    Objectives: This study seeks to describe the population of college students with same-sex sexual experience and determine if these students report more substance use than their peers with only opposite-sex experience. Methods: Questionnaires were completed by a national random sample of college students on 119 campuses in 1999. A total of 10,301 sexually active students were categorized as having only opposite-sex, only same-sex, or both-sex partners, and their smoking, binge drinking, and marijuana use behaviors were compared. Results: Students who report same-sex sexual experiences comprise 6.1% of respondent. Women with both-sex partners were approximately twice as likely to smoke, binge drink, and use marijuana as women with only opposite-sex partners (OR=1.41-2.78), but women with only same-sex partners were not at increased risk for these behaviors. Men with both-sex partners were less likely to binge drink (OR=0.54) than men with only opposite-sex partners. Conclusions: Students with same-sex experience are present at every type of college. College women with both-sex partners appear to be an appropriate target for health interventions; outreach to these students and further study of related behaviors are warranted.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)899-913
    Number of pages15
    JournalAddictive Behaviors
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Jul 2003

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This project was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association's Lesbian Health Fund. All human subjects consented to participation, and the Harvard School of Public Health Institutional Review Board exempted this study (due to anonymous data collection) on November 22, 1996. The authors wish to thank Dr. Hang Lee and Dr. Stephen Gilman for their generous assistance with the analysis, and Dr. Glorian Sorensen and Dr. Lisa Berkman for their thoughtful reviews of this manuscript.


    • Homosexuality
    • Sexual behavior
    • Substance use


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